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Republic Tennis advances to the first Final Four

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By Kai Raymer (for OzarksSportsZone.com)

Add another milestone to a record season for the Republic High School girls tennis team.

Republic is tied for the last four after Glendale’s 5-0 quarter-final victory on Monday in Class 2. It marks the first time Republic has qualified for state as a program in boys ‘or girls’ tennis.

I’ve only been playing for three years, so I never expected anything so big, said Republic senior Sedalia Shumaker. But to get along with people that I hang out with even outside of school, they are my friends, it’s very important. I am blessed.

Republic has finished with 12 or more wins per season since 2016, including back-to-back district championships this season.

Every year we kept banging and banging, but we hit a wall, said Republic coach Dan Vales. This year we were finally able to climb over that wall to get there. We were so excited as a team and as a program to reach that milestone.

The Lady Tigers also send a record five qualifiers to this weekend’s individual championships at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.

On the team side, Republic will face St. Pius X (Kansas City) in a Class 2 semi-final game at Cooper on October 23. The winner will play in the Class 2 state final October 24.

It’s going to be a whirlwind, Vales said of the next two weeks. It will be difficult for the girls and for us teachers to focus in school with so much tennis ahead of us.

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At the beginning of Monday, Republic took control of its own tennis courts with a ‘clean sweep’ in the doubles.

The doubles have greatly boosted (our confidence), Shumaker said. It was a good team effort all around.

Republics calling the No. 3 doubles team of Abigail McCord and Wrigley Cook, took an 8-6 win over Glendales Lauren Hamm and Ann Beatty.

Vales said he found the right doubles team in McCord and Cook near the Republics’ regular season.

Around the Nixa Invitational, we found that the team we thought could win a lot at that level, Vales said. They won the Nixa tournament and they have been winning ever since.

The only loss of McCord and Cooks since then was to another republic doubles team in a tournament.

The 5-0 outcome avenged the Republics’ regular season loss against Glendale on September 21. Republic lost its top player junior Elsie Crawford for that match.

Her back-strengthened Republics line up for Monday’s playoff rematch.

(Our players) knew it could change things a bit, because it kind of has a domino effect on who’s playing with whom, Vales said. But with that said, we knew this would be a daunting challenge. If we didn’t start quickly in doubles, we probably had a long day ahead.

Republic needed that early lead when Glendale started to fight back in singles.

(The final score) is a bit deceiving, as all the singles matches were super close and (Glendale) led some, Vales said. It was a very competitive game.

Looking ahead, Republic has a lot of experience on the Cooper jobs, Vales said.

When MSHSAA expanded girls’ tennis to three classes this fall, the Lady Tigers knew their chances of making a state were better.

We were looking forward to reseeding that district, Vales said. When it was announced that we were in Class 2, we knew we had a chance to make it to the last four if we played like we did today.

Republic 5, Glendale 0

Double
(1) Crawford / Howard def. Huang / C. Stenger, 8-2
(2) Shumaker / Lewis def. Martino / Liggett, 8-5
(3) McCord / Cook def. Beatty / Hamm, 8-6

Singles
(2) Howard def. Martino, 6-1 and 6-1
(4) Shumaker def. Liggett, 6-2 and 6-3



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